Name: Cristina Garcia
Role: Assemblywoman, California State Legislature; chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus
Accusations: Garcia is accused of making drunken passes at 2 male subordinates, and grabbing the crotch of one
Consequences for her actions: Garcia announced on Feb 9, 2018 that she would be taking unpaid leave from her position in the Assembly
Garcia’s Response: Garcia initially said she had “zero recollection” of the alleged incidents. The following day, Friday Feb 9, 2018, she said she was now certain she had never done the things she was accused of. Read her full statement here.
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Cristina Garcia, a Democratic assemblywoman in California’s 58th District, has been an outspoken leader of the #MeToo movement – even appearing in Time Magazine’s Person of the Year story for 2017, The Silence Breakers. She has said that she has frequently experienced sexual harassment in her career. So it’s especially interesting that she is now accused of sexual harassment herself.
As first reported in Politico on Feb 8, 2018 by Carla Marinucci, Garcia has been accused by two young male staffers – one anonymously and one on the record – of having made unwelcome sexual advances toward them.
The formal report to the California Assembly about the allegations was made by Assembly member Ian Calderon (D-Whittier). In an interesting twist, Calderon is the nephew of Tom Calderon, a former Assemblyman and the Democrat who Garcia defeated in the 2012 primary, before Garcia went on to win the seat. According to the Los Angeles Times, the two Calderons are not on speaking terms.
Garcia announced on Feb 10, 2018 that she would take an unpaid leave from the Assembly, beginning immediately, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Editor’s Note: While there has not yet [Feb 11, 2018] been published any journalism that questions the credibility of Garcia’s accusers, The #MeToo Exchange finds some of Daniel Fierro’s statements cast doubt on the credibility of his allegations. Read more on the Accusers tab.
Garcia’s Twitter feed is where she’s most active
Here is Garcia’s Facebook page.
Fierro, who was 25 at the time of the alleged incident, says Garcia came up to him at the end of the annual Assembly softball game while he was cleaning up the dugout. He says she was drunk and got handsy – stroking his back, squeezing his butt and even trying to grab his crotch before he managed to extricate himself from the situation.
#MeToo movement lawmaker investigated for sexual misconduct allegations,
by Carla Marinucci
Feb 8, 2018
But is Fierro telling the truth?
That’s a fair question to ask of any accuser. One thing that adds instant credibility is contemporaneous corroboration – did he or she tell anyone at the time about the incident?
In Fierro’s case, he passes this test, at least on the surface: according to Politico, Fierro told two Assembly staffers who were colleagues of his at the time about the incident. One of them, Lerna Shirinian, is quoted as saying, “I remember it very clearly, he told me as soon as it happened.”
But then, Politico goes on to say, that Shirinian “[noted] the admission was in confidence and she had to respect her friend’s decision not to report it.”
Huh? That’s a bit odd. We here at The #MeToo Exchange have read a lot of these stories, and we’ve never read about a corroborator offering a built-in reason why they didn’t say something before. That sounds to us like what someone would say if they were making up a story, and just weren’t very good at making it sound real.
Another thing about Fierro’s allegation strikes us as odd, just because in all the stories we’ve read, we’ve never heard another accuser say it. And that is that he told Politico he “would not be surprised if Garcia does not even remember the groping incident, [because] she was so intoxicated.” Really? You felt the need to mention that she probably wouldn’t remember it? That’s a pretty good way of preempting an “I have no recollection” rebuttal. But even as good of a strategic move as it is, you just don’t read other accusers saying it. Which makes us wonder – just wonder – if perhaps this story isn’t more strategic calculation than truth.
And finally, Fierro’s accusation as reported in Politico includes this tidbit: “Fierro said he felt the same doubts that women have expressed in similar situations. “I thought, ‘What did I do?’” to bring on the sexual aggression.” “
And while it may be true – if the allegations are true – that Fierro felt self-doubt as a response … isn’t that a weird way to say it? He’s not saying, as women accusers typically do, “I blamed myself for what happened, wondering what I did wrong.” Rather, he’s saying, “My story is just as worthy of attention as any woman’s story, because I felt the same things.” And that just strikes us as an odd thing to say.
Bottom line, we are eagerly awaiting additional journalism on this allegation, as the investigation is reported to be moving along at a brisk pace.
Anonymous Accuser #1
A lobbyist from Sacramento says that Garcia had repeatedly asked him out on dates, which he had declined. Then one night at a fundraiser in May 2017, Garcia got drunk and approached him as he was leaving, saying she had set a goal for herself to fuck him. She also at that point she tried to grab his crotch.
She looked at me for a second and said, “I’ve set a goal for myself to fuck you.”
#MeToo movement lawmaker investigated for sexual misconduct allegations
by Carla Marinucci
Feb 8, 2018
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Sen. Connie Leyva called for Garcia to step down, saying, “As a vocal ally of the #MeToo and #WeSaidEnough movements, I am shocked and disturbed at the very troubling allegations related to California Legislative Women’s Caucus Chair Cristina Garcia,” she wrote. “… Anyone proven to have sexually harassed or assaulted another person, regardless of their gender, should be held accountable for their actions. I commit to continue fighting to rid the Capitol and our state of the pervasive culture of sexual harassment, assault, and overall disrespect.”
California Assemblywoman and #MeToo Champion accused of groping, Mercury News by Katy Murphy, Feb 8, 2018
Garcia made an initial statement on Thursday Feb 8, 2018 saying she had “zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behavior.”
She updated her statement on Friday to say “Upon reflection of the details alleged, I am certain I did not engage in the behavior I am accused of. However, as I’ve said before, any claims about sexual harassment must be taken seriously, and I believe elected officials should be held to a higher standard of accountability.”
Read her statement here.